In what may have been the most widely awaited speech at the United Nations, Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, preached tolerance and understanding on Tuesday, denounced as a form of violence the Western sanctions imposed on his country and said nuclear weapons had no place in its future.
Mr. Rouhani, whose speech followed President Obama’s by more than six hours, also acknowledged Mr. Obama’s outreach to Iran aimed at resolving more than three decades of estrangement and recrimination, and expressed hope that “we can arrive at a framework to manage our differences.”
But the Iranian leader also asserted that the “shortsighted interests of warmongering pressure groups” in the United States had resulted in an inconsistent American message on the nuclear dispute and other issues.
Mr. Rouhani restated Iran’s insistence that it would never pursue nuclear weapons in its uranium enrichment program, saying, “this will always be the position of Iran.”
But he offered no specific proposals to reach a compromise on the nuclear dispute, which has led to Iran’s severe economic isolation because of Western sanctions that have impaired its oil, banking and manufacturing base.
The sanctions, he said, are “violent, pure and simple.”
The speech by Mr. Rouhani, a moderate cleric who is close to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appeared partly aimed at his own domestic audience and was his most prominent opportunity to explain his views, following his election in June after eight years of the hard-line and pugnacious saber-rattling by his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who regularly railed against Israel and provoked annual walkouts by diplomats at his General Assembly speeches.
There was no such mass walkout this time.
“We believe there are no violent solutions to world crises,” Mr. Rouhani said.
He never once mentioned Israel by name in his speech, although he did speak to what he called the violence perpetrated on the Palestinians. “Palestine is under occupation,” he said. “The basic rights of Palestinians are tragically violated.”
Israeli leaders, who have called Iran an existential threat to Israel, have publicly criticized Mr. Rouhani as no different from others in the Iranian government.
In a generic reference to Iran’s critics, Mr. Rouhani said they had established what he called “propagandistic and unfounded faith-phobic, Islamo-phobic, Shia-phobic and Iran-phobic discourses,” which he said posed”serious threats against world peace and human security.”
Those who malign Iran, Mr. Rouhani said, “are either a threat against international peace and security themselves or promote such a threat.”
He said “Iran poses absolutely no threat to the world or the region.” NYTimes